Hey gang, Valkor here. And as much as I enjoy a good horror film, I do so enjoy a good horror video game. There aren't too many that have crossed my path, but the ones that have such as Ju-on: The Video Game and Dead Space Extraction, have offered up a nice dose of scares. And then comes Level 5and their latest title – The Starship Damrey for the Nintendo 3DS. And yes it did give me the chills.
In The Starship Damrey, you'll control one of the worker robots as you traverse through two floors, plus the ship's cockpit. Actually you're one of the crew members locked in one of the cold-sleep chambers until you're able to get the oxygen up to snuff to be released. The game is riddled with puzzles – hell in order to gain control of the robot, you must solve a series of puzzles and there are no tutorials - none whatsoever. However, once you gain control of your robot, then you're free to roam about in an attempt to not only get the oxygen level up, but also find out just what happened on the ship as you come across dead crew members. Searching crew members will reward you with their key cards, which you can use to open up other rooms on teh ship. You'll also find objects that will aid you along the way, kill off space leeches (because that's part of the robot's protocol), and be haunted by a strange ghost girl. On the lower touch screen you can access a map as well as your chamber (you'll access that towards the end). And that's when all the pieces of the puzzle come into place. Or do they? Actually you'll have to sit through the end credits to fully realize what happened and when you do – mind blown!
You control the robot with the D-pad and use the analog pad to look around. The game will signal you when you found something of interest, plus if it's an object you need to pick up or examine more closely, you'll need to look at it more than once. Sound plays a big role in Damrey so you'll need the volume up to hear such cues as a leech detection or certain musical clues to signify something is about to go down.
The Starship Damrey is quite cinematic and is reminiscent of Japanese horror films; it has a slow build up, loads of tension, and plenty of jump scares, plus a long-haired girl to add to the frights. Right off the bat, I give credit to level 5 for delivering such a precise cinematic experience in a video game. But how does the game ultimately fare? Let's find out in the TOV Breakdown.
The Starship Damrey is a chilling and challenging title that's totally worth checking out. I'll admit, if you're into something more action-packed and fast paced, you might want to look elsewhere. But if you give this title a chance, I think you'll be in for a treat – especially if you're a fan of Japanese horror. Yes the game has no tutorials, however the puzzle elements aren't that difficult to figure out and most of the time you'll need to retrace your steps to find what you're looking for. That might sound monotonous, but figuring it out without any assistance feels most rewarding. The game is slow yet steady paced with just the right amount of jump scares to keep you on your toes, the graphics aren't anything spectacular but they work, the game is mostly quiet with mainly the sound of the robot traversing the halls but the audio of the computer that speaks to you and the musical cues are nice touches. Speaking of music, it's not laden throughout but it chimes it at all the right moments. Next, the controls are quite simple (once you gain control of the robot) and that ending… loved that ending! I won't spoil the experience but don't do what I almost did and turn the game off before the end credits and toss the whole system in teh trash; wait until it finishes to get the true ending that will bring everything to light and believe me I was floored. In the end, I sing much praise for The Starship Damrey and I hope Level 5 retread this game once more as I can feel a much bigger, broader game that needs to be brought forth (hell I'll take another 3DS trip any day).
There's not too much negative I wanna say about the game, but I guess my biggest gripe is that it was too short. You only get two floors really and your robot is pretty fast; sure trying to solve the puzzles brings some balance and slows the pace, but unless you're actually searching every nook and cranny, you're in for a quick trip.
The Starship Damrey is a unique, challenging, and ambitious title definitely worthy of checking out. There's no handholding with this one but that feeling you get when you solve a difficult puzzle without assist is most rewarding. You can pick up The Starship Damrey from Nintendo's eShop right now for 7.99. And out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving the title a 4.5. Bonus: If you've downloaded Level 5's previous titles – Aero Porter, Liberation Maiden, and Crimson Shroud you'll have access to special scenario through the "linked content" option on the main screen.